Adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) is an aggressive T-cell malignancy caused by human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). ATL cells possess a CD4+ CD25+ phenotype, similar to that of regulatory T cells (Tregs). Tax has been reported to play a crucial role in the leukemogenesis of HTLV-1. The HTLV-1 bZIP factor (HBZ), which is encoded by the minus strand of the viral genomic RNA, is expressed in all ATL cases and induces neoplastic and inflammatory disease in vivo . To test whether HBZ and Tax are both required for T cell malignancy, we generated HBZ/Tax double transgenic mice in which HBZ and Tax are expressed exclusively in CD4+ T cells. Survival was much reduced in HBZ/Tax double-transgenic mice compared with wild type littermates. Transgenic expression of HBZ and Tax induced skin lesions and T-cell lymphoma in mice, resembling diseases observed in HTLV-1 infected individuals. However, Tax single transgenic mice did not develop major health problems. In addition, memory CD4+ T cells and Foxp3+ Treg cells counts were increased in HBZ/Tax double transgenic mice, and their proliferation was enhanced. There was very little difference between HBZ single and HBZ/Tax double transgenic mice. Taken together, these results show that HBZ, in addition to Tax, plays a critical role in T-cell lymphoma arising from HTLV-1 infection.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 1, 2014
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